Ecoliteracy Essentials for Creatives: Development of the online 6-week course

My idea for an accessible online course on Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives will offer a cohort of creative people to learn together in their own time and at home.

Ecoliteracy is both a priority to effectively inform our creative efforts for the ecological emergency*, and to best direct the use of limited cultural funding supports.

At present, ecological knowledge is rarely available as a topic or module in third level art institutions or in art administration or cultural policy courses. My initial online course idea was to provide a basic introduction to this challenging topic for creative workers, teachers, art administrators and cultural policy writers.

Ecological, participatory and collaborative models of practice that engage with eco-social concerns have been developing over many decades. However, such practices are consistently on the margins of contemporary art because ecological insights challenge creative conventions and present a profound paradigm shift for modern society to radically improve its relations to the nonhuman world. As present, due to funding restraints in third-level art colleges, giving creative workers a foundation in ecoliteracy is not a priority and this is also hampered by the fact that many art educators also lack ecoliteracy learning (I have been alert to this situation for several decades as I worked in research science for a decade before going to art college).

An online course idea developed from the frustrations I encountered in developing my own creative practice, despite my background in science. I mentioned the potential in online learning for creatives in the conclusion of my doctoral PhD by Creative Practice (The Ecological Turn, Fitzgerald, 2018 – I have been fortunate that my sister, Dr. Alannah Fitzgerald has completed doctoral research on advances in international massive open online learning.

For me, offering essential ecoliteracy modules online is a cost effective, accessible way to enable creatives to engage with this topic confidently within the short decade time-frame the world’s scientists claim we have left.

At this time, I wish to thank those who have long supported my efforts in this area.

Haumea Ecoliteracy Essentials On-Line Course Development

During February 2019, I was awarded a Carlow Local Enterprise Feasibility Study Award to explore online course development with support from the Carlow Local Enterprise Office and business mentor Bernie Tracey. The Feasibility Study Award allowed me mentorship with the Canadian Online Course Builders Laboratory by MIRASEE and award-winning Irish art-business-tech mentor Mary Carty.

Carlow Local Enterprise Office, with thanks to Pauline Hoctor and Business Mentor Bernie Treacy.

The Course Builders’ Laboratory Programme developed by Educational Entrepreneur and Author, Danny Iny. My mentor at MIRASEE is Jim Wright.

Irish Award-winning Art-Business Tech Mentor, Mary Carty

In July 2019, I conducted an online survey of nearly 60 creative workers

(from Ireland, but I also had replies from America, Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, United Kingdom and Europe) to ask about their needs for ecological learning – ecoliteracy. From this survey, I designed 6 essential ecoliteracy modules.

In November, 2019, with the support of an Carlow Arts Office Award, I ran a Live 1-day Pilot Essential Ecoliteracy workshop on 5 modules for 16 participants in South County Carlow, Ireland. I had attendees from across Ireland.

For this workshop, I was very fortunate to have US philosopher coach Dr Nikos Patedakis and Irish-based Swedish Subtle Body Anatomist and artist Veronica Larsson give me considerable support to develop a psycho-social module for creatives who are examining often depressing ecological topics in their work.

February 26 2020: I announced my Pilot 6-week Online Essential Ecoliteracy Course. Please see here for details and how to book.

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Cathy Fitzgerald (PhD by Creative Practice) is a successful ecological artist researcher and recovering scientist. This makes her uniquely placed to guide other creative people toward the most urgent topic in contemporary art today – how can we effectively employ creativity to inspire societal change in our audiences for the better world we know is possible. Read why I have developed an ecoliteracy online course and a workshop on essential ecoliteracy here